Become a good storyteller

Story circle

Humans love stories. Since, the time we were born, we are fascinated by the stories told by our parents, grandparents and families and as we grow up, we are captivated by the stories in books and on TV. They make us feel excited, inspired, sad, heart broken, scared, understood and so many more emotions. They help us learn about life and the universe in a way that makes sense to us.

There are many stories that define our lives, the stories of our families, friends and our roles in each other's lives. At our jobs, there are stories about our role in our teams, our feelings towards our work, our relationships with peers, reports, manager and the rest of the organization. There are stories about how the company is doing, how decisions are being made, the position of the company relative to the competition in the market. Your manager is telling a story to their manager, the CEO is painting a story about the future potential of the company to investors and the board, the board members are telling a story about your company and the rest of their portfolio to their partners and the stories continue. These stories play a big role in our life, they give us information, so we can make better decisions to ensure our survival and prosperity. It helps us become more self aware, gives purpose to our actions and let's us shape perceptions of others. There are many versions of the same story, and we choose the one that makes the most sense to us. We form communities around these shared understanding of these stories and the stories sometime grow into propaganda and belief systems.

All of this to say that stories are important to us, they are the fabric that weaves together the tapestry of our lives. So, how do you tell a good story? The first step is to become a good listener. You need to listen to a lot of diverse perspectives, understand them deeply and distill the most important parts. The next step is to understand your audience, so you can create a compelling narrative that's tailored to your audience. How you tell the story is more important than the story itself. A story is not about truths and facts or good vs evil or some systemic issue, it is a narrative that makes sense of something that did not make sense before, that, in a way reduces the entropy of our understanding of the universe. It is not about enforcing your version or furthering your agenda, it's about telling a geniune version of the story. People will figure out eventually when you are lying to them or manipulating then and you will lose your credibility. An ability to tell an engaging story is extremely valuable when you need to inspire and bring a community of people together to work towards a shared mission, which is what every company is.